Making thin filo pastry for Serbian pita requires patience, practice and a clean bed sheet! If it seems too daunting a task, substitute with refrigerated filo pastry from your supermarket. You will need about 18 sheets of filo to make 6 smaller pitas.
- 700 g plain flour, plus extra, to dust
- 2 tsp salt
- 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra, to brush
- 250 g (1¼ cups) fetta, crumbled
- 500 g fresh ricotta
- 250 g (1¼ cups) farmer's cottage cheese (see Note)
- 100 g sour cream
- 4 eggs
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 30 minutes
Drink match Budweiser Budvar ($4, 330ml; $18, sixpack) or 2009 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio ($24).
To make pastry, combine 600 g flour and 2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 250 ml (1 cup) warm water, milk, margarine and oil until combined. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead, slowly incorporating remaining 100 g flour until you have a firm dough that isn’t sticky. Divide into 2 balls and flatten each one to 2 cm-thick rounds. Place on a greased plate. Brush top and sides well with oil. Rest for 30 minutes.
To stretch dough, line a long rectangular table with a clean cotton tablecloth or bedsheet. Take one piece of dough and with one edge of the dough hanging over your hands, lift it into the air; the weight of the dough will start to stretch it. Work your way around the edge of the dough so it stretches into a larger piece. When it is too large to handle, place it on the table. Using the balls of your hands and working from the centre of the dough, stretch dough until it is even and transparent; the dough will eventually cover the tablecloth. Trim the thick outer edges, then brush the trimmed edges with oil.
Preheat oven to 200°C fan-forced. Grease 2 large oven trays. To make the cheese filling, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
Fold in the two short sides of the pastry sheet slightly to form narrow panels, then dollop half the cheese filling at random intervals over pastry. Using the tablecloth and starting from one of the long sides, roll up pastry to form a long, thin log. Snake pastry into a snug, zigzag coil on a greased tray. Repeat stretching and filling pastry with remaining dough and cheese mixture.
Bake pita, swapping the trays halfway, for 35 minutes or until crisp and golden.
• Available from selected supermarkets and delis.
Photography by Alan Benson.
As seen in Feast magazine, October 2011, Issue 2.